|End of Page||Great Projects||Site Map||Overview Page|
The Mongol invasion of Central Asia in the 13th century destroyed these civilizations and leveled the great cities of Central Asia. In our century, Soviet colonialism put Central Asia, previously a breadbasket, under a cotton monoculture, turning it into a grain-deficit region. The demand for ever higher cotton quotas led to the irrational exploitation of water resources resulting in the creation of nonarable salt flats. In 1989, the republics of Central Asia suffered infant mortality rates as high as those in Africa.
Because of the diplomatic progress made by the Clinton administration, we can also now bring the Korean peninsula into this picture. The development accords agreed upon by North and South Korea mean that South Korea is effectively no longer cut off from the Asian land mass by North Korea, but the entire peninsula is part of the continent. This also brings into play South Korea's industrial capabilities and its considerable skills in infrastructure construction.
Line B runs from the Rhine industrial belt of Germany into the Silesian industrial region to Kiev, and the Donbass mining and steel region of Ukraine, and then via Rostov-on-the-Don into the Caucasus. It runs along the east coast of the Black Sea to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, from there via the Armenian capital of Yerevan through Iran into the Afghan city of Herat.
At Herat, the line splits into two lines.
The Rail Line B1 would be the official new Silk Route--taking the northern route in Xinjiang via Alma Ata and Urumqi. At Zhenzhou in China, this line would link up with the South Asia line coming up from southern China. Already, China is working toward the total construction of this route. During the week of June 18, 1992, the first passenger trains crossed the new ``Second Eurasian land bridge,'' which links Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region of China, with Alma Alta in Kazakhstan.
Rail Line B2 runs south from Herat into Gandahar and across the Afghan border into Quetta in Pakistan into the Punjab, to New Delhi, and then runs along the great Ganga river valley, continuing into Burma and then over the old Burma road into Kunming and central China.
Line C revives the famous Orient Express as well as the Baghdad Railway project which London had once declared to be the casus belli to the British empire, and which runs out of Paris to Vienna, southward to Budapest, Hungary, and to Belgrade. There it joins with a second European line coming from Zagreb. From Belgrade, the line runs to Istanbul and Ankara and then into Jerusalem and Cairo; another line runs all the way through Baghdad and then to Basra and Kuwait; and a third line goes to Yerevan, connecting to the Sino-Indo-European line.
It is easy to see that the regional and other ethnic conflagrations that have erupted or are on the burner to erupt represent a sabotage of the implementation of the Silk Route concept. It should not be presupposed, however, that settlement of such conflicts--whether at the Belgrade nexus for Line C--or the Herat nexus where lines B1 and B2 branch off--or the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan--must be solved as prerequisites for implementation of the Silk Route. The commitment to carry out joint projects which benefit all populations in a given region is the prerequisite to peace.
Many of the railroad lines that we are proposing already exist in some form. The Silk Route plan calls for upgrading and standardization of existing rail lines. For instance, in China China has about 33,000 route miles of railroads. Of that, only 8,788 miles are double-tracked and less than 5,478 miles have been electrified, according to Beijing Review of Oct. 10, 1994.
That is not how such agencies as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the General Trade and Tariffs (GATT) have viewed this region. Instead, for the derivative traders and international financiers, Asia is viewed primarily as one vast slave labor pool. In China, the Deng Xiao-ping era has hinged on creating ``Special Economic Zones'' and the foreign exploitation of cheap labor. This globaloney economic system is the basis for the huge trade deficit enjoyed in the United States and the degradation of its productive workforce--and for the futile attempt to prop up the global speculative bubble.
In terms of the actual physical economy, the low levels of productivity of labor in Asia not only represent the misery of many impoverished Asians, but act as a drag on the entire world economy.
EIR has developed comparisons of five different economies to the industrialized, and highly energy and population dense nation of Belgium, to give an idea of the deficits in the real economy between India and China and industrialized nations.
The yardstick we are using for this comparison is Belgium, which enjoys one of the highest population densities in the world and also density of infrastructure and industrial production. For this comparison of the real economy, we use the following parameters: the age relations of the entire population; population density; and the distribution of the workforce across agriculture, industry, and overhead. Overhead is those activities that are not directly related to agricultural and industrial production--this includes actual services--such as health care, education, research and development, etc.,--and also wasteful overhead, such as Madison Avenue, speculation and casino gambling. Then we take national income per capita and per household. Then we look at land usage and measure national income by unit area; and then the presence of what we call ``hard infrastructure''--usable water by unit area; power usage by unit area; and rail mileage by unit area.
The first comparison we show here is Belgium to the United States, and here we see immediately reflected the United States's far greater land area per capita--1,007% greater than that of Belgium--and all the density ratios that follow from that, water usage, power usage; and rail mileage and income per square kilometer--reflect that disparity. The age distributions of the two populations are commensurate--in this case M stands for Minor; W for workforce age adults; and S for seniors. More interesting is the comparison of the distribution of the workforce, where the percentage of workers engaged in agriculture are the same, but there is a far greater allocation of the workforce in the United States to overhead (most of it wasteful). Despite its low efficiencies in land usage, relative to Belgium, U.S. income is higher. This is in part due to higher levels of per capita output but also to the United States's increasing trade deficit--its import of cheap goods from cheap labor markets overseas.
Now, let us for a moment not think of an economy in terms of Gross National Product, where bets at a football game have the same scalar value as the electricity produced at a nuclear power plant, but let us think of value as the harnessed capabilities of individual human beings. That is, increases in the productivity of labor enable mankind to sustain ever-greater levels of relative population density. Such increases in the productivity of labor result from scientific breakthroughs, which translate into revolutionized machine tools and entire new arrays of technologies, and the re-education of a skilled labor force to work with those technologies. An industrialized economy produces such breakthroughs at a far more rapid rate, resulting in exponential rises in population densities, over previously, primarily agriculturally based economies. In that process then, wealth lies not in some physiocratic notion of land but in the value-added component--the individual human minds that compose the households that produce the skilled workforce, the teachers, engineers, and scientists.
From this standpoint, we see the enormous waste in the economies of India and China--millions thrown onto a scrap heap of low-level technological existence, barely able to sustain themselves, let alone anyone else. In an industrial economy, it is estimated that an individual industrial worker entering the labor force at the age of 21 pays back society's economic investment to him in those 21 years in the space of six months.
Thus we can see the enormous deficit in economic development in Asia. This deficit has been the major downward trend dragging the world economy with it over the postwar period. The failure, after World War II, of the Allied Powers to carry out the vision of President Franklin Roosevelt--to develop the former colonial nations rather than reconstituting the British empire--is the major underlying physical source of the systemic crisis facing the world economy today.
Look at it another way: if the industrialized countries were engaged in raising the productivity of labor in countries such as China and India, wouldn't this necessitate massive exports of capital goods, of high technologies from the industrialized countries? Wouldn't this require putting the American workforce back to work in high-paying high-skill jobs rebuilding the world?
Now let us look at this deficit in-depth in the case of China.
In the distribution of the population by age, we see that China's percentage of minors is relatively low compared to other underdeveloped countries due to the harsh population control policies of the government.
In the scientific field, the Chinese figure of nearly 2 scientists per square kilometer--compared to half a scientist per square kilometer in Western Europe--is suspect. It should also be noted that the primary school system that had been set up under the communist regime of Mao has largely collapsed and children in the rural areas are simply not going to school.
The answer is that the point of this Silk Route concept is not only to enable goods from Beijing to reach Paris by rail, or vice versa. As the history of the development of the United States proved, and as China's great revolutionary statesman Dr. Sun Yat-sen understood from that history, rail lines not only function as the circulatory system for a national and global economy, but are the backbone for internal development. The rail lines proposed are not simple railroad lines, no matter how they might appear on a map, but are designed to be ``infrastructure corridors''--the lines along which population and energy density reach levels critical enough to power industrialization.
The land area of a 50-kilometer corridor on each side of the lines proposed for the Silk Route Lines A, B, and C, already encompasses between 800-900 million people--about 25% of the entire population of Eurasia and more than 50% of its industrial workforce. By ``bundling'' modern transport, energy, water, and other infrastructure within the corridors with Great Projects for river control, irrigation, and power generation, the productivity of the Eurasian continent will take a gigantic leap.
Look at China, and you will see that the majority of the population lives in the eastern third of the country.
A second north-south line from Beijing to Hong Kong is now under rush construction for 1995 completion.
Let us now think of China's main railways and its waterways, not simply as lines linking one point to another. Let us think of them as corridors of infrastructure around which are arrayed power complexes and technologies for industrialization--around which are arrayed new cities.
Each nuplex is in fact a nuclear-powered city, where the city center is a cultural center and place of learning and training to build a new labor force. This is not training to teach peasants how to carry out the same type of manual labor their great- great- grandfathers carried out, nor even training for a particular new, high-technology skill. These centers of learning are to teach the method of creativity, whereby the individuals are able to assimilate entire new arrays of technological skills on a continuous basis and to teach them to others.
High-input, intensive agriculture takes advantage of the nuclear technology process for irrigation and fertilizer production. And disbursed on the outer edges of the corridor are new, modernized towns.
Such an approach of laying down infrastructural corridors as the gridlines for new cities supplies the answer to the unemployment problem and, simultaneously, with on-site educational facilities, upgrades the entire work force for entry into the industrial age.
Hence, the Silk Route project is not merely a plan to shorten the land route of goods shipped from the Pacific Rim to Western Europe by 3,000 kilometers. It is a project to build human civilization, to unleash the creative capacities of millions of human beings.
Is it an impossible dream? Or, rather, is it time for humanity to wake up from its current nightmare, and get to work?
|Top of Page||Great Projects||Site Map||Overview Page|
EIR Report: The Eurasian Silkroad -- Locomotive for Worldwide Economic Development, 1997. Special price: $50.00.
EIR Report: Never Again! London's Genocide Against Africans, June, 1997. $10.00
EIR Report: Peace Through Development in Africa's Great Lakes Region, April, 1997. $25.00.